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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 10:41 GMT
Southern rivals in agreement
New Zealand captain Reuben Thorne
Reuben Thorne has been under pressure from the Kiwi press
New Zealand captain Reuben Thorne and Australia coach Eddie Jones have one thing in common - they both say it is too early to write off the Wallabies.

The All Blacks have lived up to their status as tournament favourites by playing some sparkling rugby on their way to the last four, while Australia have stuttered through with some unconvincing displays.

And New Zealand will go into Saturday's semi-final as strong favourites to beat the defending world champions and clinch a place in the World Cup final.

However, Thorne was keen to remind journalists of Australia's sporting prowess.

"We'd never write them off," said Thorne. "Anyone who writes off the Australians in any sport are fools.

"They know us well and they know how we play and I'm sure they will be preparing for that."

The New Zealand captain said he believed the problems affecting Australia had been blown out of proportion.

"There's nothing there that can't be fixed pretty quickly," he said.

"They're just minor details. Australia are a very intelligent side and they'll be onto it."

We're playing New Zealand and we believe we've got the game to beat them
Aussie boss Eddie Jones

Thorne said he sympathised with Australian counterpart George Gregan over the criticism dished out to the Wallabies team by former players and newspapers.

"We're used to that sort of stuff at home," said Thorne, whose own position as All Blacks captain has been the subject of vigorous debate in New Zealand.

"I know George (Gregan) and Eddie Jones will be doing everything they can to be successful. But they still cop a fair bit."

Under-fire Australia coach Jones admitted his side had not yet played to its full potential but said the Wallabies could still beat New Zealand.

"We're definitely not where we want to be performance-wise but we only need to be on Saturday night," he said.

"We're playing New Zealand and we believe we've got the game to beat them."

Jones pointed to Wales' exceptional performances against New Zealand and then England as proof that past form would mean little on Saturday.

"It's very hard to get form. It's not like racehorses because teams perform differently on various days," said Jones.

"What it comes down to is performance on the night and the team you're playing against."





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